Celebrity Infinity crew member on ship dies, company confirms

One cruise crew member has died on the Royal Caribbean-owned Celebrity Infinity ship, the company confirmed to the Miami Herald Thursday.

Two additional crew members have been evacuated “for medical reasons” off the Oasis of the Seas, also owned by Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Crew members on the Celebrity Infinity, most of whom have been under strict lockdown in their rooms since Saturday, learned of their fellow crew member’s death in a Thursday announcement from the cruise’s leadership.

In interviews with the Herald, employees of the two conronavirus-tagged cruise ships say they haven’t just been kept in guest cabins 24 hours a day — they’ve been kept in the dark by those running the ship.

“We don’t know how long we are here, who they are testing, where we are going,” a crew member on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas said. “We know nothing. They aren’t sharing anything with us.”

What the crews of the Oasis and RCCL-owned Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity know is they’ve been under quarantine after confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They don’t know how many crew members have tested positive. They don’t know when their ship will dock. They don’t know when they’ll be able to go home.

The Oasis sits off Port Everglades. The Infinity sits off Florida’s West Coast.

In a statement, the CEO of the Broward Health Medical Center said they coordinated the transfer of “critically ill patients” from cruise ships on Thursday evening.

“All guests on Oasis and Infinity have disembarked, and we are focused on the health and well-being of our crew who are our foremost priority,” Royal Caribbean spokesperson Jonathon Fishman said in a statement to the Herald. “In accordance with our health and safety protocols, crew members who exhibited influenza-like symptoms have been examined by our medical staff and have been asked to self-isolate in their cabins under medical observation.”

Both cruise ships have disembarked passengers in the past weeks, but are still keeping some workers on board as they wait to be repatriated to their countries. While some crew members are in cabins with balconies, others have been trapped inside windowless rooms for at least 10 days, employees told the Herald.

Before Saturday, crew members said there wasn’t any noticeable signs of urgency or panic, and that they were not told there were any confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board.

Employees on the Oasis of the Seas said before Saturday, they were being allowed to gather in the pool and bar areas and roam freely around the ships before. Staff on the Celebrity Infinity said the ship’s leadership had designated only one “red zone” area within the vessel that was meant to isolate employees exhibiting symptoms.

“But we had cases before, without anybody telling the crew,” said one employee on the Celebrity Infinity, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation for speaking with the media.

One employee on the Oasis of the Seas said they spent several days having to drink water from the tap before other crew members began to deliver bottled water. Crew members receive three meals a day.

“We are scared,” the crew member said.

Herald staff writer Taylor Dolven contributed to this report.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

Bianca Padró Ocasio is a general assignment reporter for the Miami Herald. She has been a Florida journalist for several years, covering everything from crime and courts to hurricanes and politics. Her bilingual work telling the stories of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida has been previously recognized by the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Sunshine State Awards.

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